What Do Urban Christianity And Conservative Christianity Have In Common?

They walk into the brand new “state of the art” gymnasium. Urban Christianity meets Conservative  Christianity.  I sit in the bleachers and observe and listen. I hear some comments. (“Here comes that team from D.C. They are so weird!”) I see the looks.

Hmmmmm…” I think “Let the judgement begin!”

Half of the gym is filled with polished, conservative young people. Brought up in families who are mostly intact. They sit there in their khaki pants and white polo shirts. Not much cultural diversity. They play the “right”  music, wear the “right” clothes.  Their professors consider them to be the “cream of the crop”.   They are beginning to believe they are the “cream of the crop”.  They have had the benefit of training, education, and parents who stay together.

The other half of the gym is scattered with those from Urban America. Not as polished. Much diversity. Brought up in families who are mostly torn apart. Some have done time in jail.  There are tattoos.  Funky hair styles. Their professors consider them  to be amazing trophies of God’s grace.  They are learning to see themselves as amazing trophies of God’s grace. They have not had the benefit of much training, education, or parents who stay together. They are just thankful to be here.

Conservative Christianity meets Urban Christianity on the court.  They play the game. They run. They cheer.  They have time-outs. While on the court they are on level ground. They play the same game, wear similar uniforms,  follow the same rules, and have the same goals in mind – They want to win.

Off the court it is a different story. A mom who is sitting nearby exclaims, “LOOK at the boy from D.C.! Look at how he is dressed! OH! BROTHER!”  

“IGNORANT!” I think to myself. My heart response is just as judgmental as her comment. She is a precious sister, but she only knows what she knows. She is only thinking the way she has always thought. She is only believing the way she has been taught.

The level ground has disappeared.

Two teams. Opponents.  Sitting back and observing each other and making judgements.  Conservative Christianity assumes that since what they see externally isn’t what they think it should be, Urban Christianity isn’t “godly”. Urban Christianity looks at Conservative Christianity and can’t comprehend the life they have lived. Parents who stay together? Are these people for real?

Both sides need to see each other in light of the cross.

If you took away the khaki pants, white polo shirts, and conservative hair cuts. If you took away the tattoos, funky hair cuts, and inner-city diversity. If you took away all the external, cultural differences and labels that have been given, there would be 6 things that they have in common:

  1. level ground.
  2. All in the same game.
  3. All with the same goals in mind.
  4. All in need of the same thing.
  5. All in need of a Savior.
  6. Helpless to change themselves.

If they are truly children of God, they would see only the miracle of God’s amazing grace in their lives. There would be no “cream of the crop” – only gratefulness that they are HIS. They would be cheering each other on.

If  we could see each other as God sees us, there would be no judgement. Only a welcoming of a brother or sister who may be different than us, but who is part of the same family.  We would embrace. We would  rejoice in the miracle of each conversion. We would see that the conversion of the Conservative Christian is just  as big a miracle as the conversion of the Urban Christian.

The sin of pride and judgement in the heart of the conservative, polished, educated student is no different than the sin that landed the inner-city, tattooed student in jail.  Both  made it necessary for Jesus to be nailed to a cross. 

If we are HIS, we are on the same team. We should not be standing on opposite sides, staring each other down.  When externals and upbringing are set aside, we are left with hearts, minds, emotions, thoughts, and spirits that are needful of being transformed.

I have been living life with Urban Christianity for several years.  I see the Holy Spirit at work.  I love that with most of these people there is no pretense. They are who they are. They don’t hide it.  It’s all out there.  It’s easier to get to the root of sin when they haven’t been taught to cover it up with the right words and dress.  I have learned so much from them, and I am saddened that they are often judged without people really taking the time to get to know them.

One day we will stand on level ground, before the Savior of our souls. Side by side. And we will see that we weren’t really that different after all!

Dear Millennial Friend

Dear Millennial Friend,

I have heard that you are frustrated because my generation doesn’t seem to be available.  I am so sorry that it appears that we are not interested. Maybe it is time that we got to know each other a little bit. Let me tell you a little bit about myself.

I always thought that when I entered the “middle aged” season of life, I’d be much wiser than I actually am.  I would be confident in myself and  I would have reached a point of  being able to scatter little bits of wisdom all over the place! None of what I imagined is a reality. Instead, I find myself in this season having been emptied of  all the misconceptions I had about myself, life, and what things would be like at this point.

Rather than looking in the mirror and seeing a strong, wise, confident person, I see a weak, emptied, needy person. One who has seen a glimpse of who she is, and is more aware than ever that anything good that is seen is there because of a work God has done. Not a wise person, but a person who has been pushed harder to learn what it means to seek God more intensely, on a minute by minute basis.  Not a confident person, but a person  who has been shown that the only thing worth putting her confidence in is God.

My age, how many years I’ve been married, where my children are at in life, that I am still in love with my husband — none of these things are meant to be trophies for me to thrust over my head in victory.  It is  God’s grace that has carried me through each season, and it is His grace that is being found in the present season.  I want to be honest, from the start, about who I really am.

Now that you know the truth, do you still think you want to spend time with me?  If so, here are 8 more  things you need to know about the older generation:

  1. We may be from different generations, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other. Please don’t write me off just because I may have a slightly different approach to life than you do. There are reasons why I am the person I am today, and there are reasons why you are the person you are today.
  2. Just because I am older does not mean I have it all together.  I am learning and growing too. Please don’t  expect me to be perfect. Even though I don’t want to, I will probably let you down in some way. We need to show each other much grace!
  3. I am  facing some of the hardest life challenges I have faced so far. My children are adults, but  they still weigh heavy on my heart. Not only am I facing the adjustment of having adult children, and that those precious people we have raised will soon be leaving our home, I am also in a season of watching my parents age and pass away. I am facing physical changes like never before. I  get tired, emotional,  grow weary, and am watching my body age.  Just because I am older, doesn’t mean that my life is easy.  Please keep that in mind.
  4. I am not your hope. Only God will meet your deepest needs at every level.  My goal is to  point you to God and challenge you to pray about how you should live your life. God knows you better than I ever will.  Seek my counsel, but always focus on God. He is your hope.
  5. It may be hard to schedule time to get together, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be available to you.  I have a home, family and other responsibilities that I am called to. I am trying to be faithful to live my calling well. There are other people in my life who need my time. Please be patient with me in the same way you want me to be patient with you.
  6. I cannot read your mind.  I don’t always know what you want or need.  Please tell me.  I will pray for you, be there as I am able, and do whatever I can to help you practically and spiritually. But you have to let me know what you need. I will never purposefully neglect you, but I might miss something.  I need you to be open with me.
  7. I strive to see you through eyes of grace, knowing you are in a process of growth and maturity. Please try to see me through that lens as well.  I may not be young anymore, but I am still learning and maturing.
  8. You want me to get to know you, to be transparent, and real. That will take time. Please take the time to get to know me as well. I need encouragement, friendship, and fellowship  just as much as you do. If I seem hesitant to be transparent, please be patient and give me time to get to know you. I have learned over the years that I need to be be “carefully transparent”, and I strive to be led by the Holy Spirit, sharing  what will be helpful.

There are times that the younger generation can appear to be self-confident, that they think that the older generation is not relevant in this day and age, or  like they don’t really need the older generationLet us know that you are interested in getting to know us. Show us that you value us. Ask us questions. We need to know that you really want us in your lives.

Let’s start getting to know each other! I think there are some wonderful relationships just waiting to be made!

How Can I Connect With A Millennial?

The older generation doesn’t know how to be transparent!” he said. “We just want them to be honest and transparent. We don’t want to be ‘taught’ all the time!”  I listened as my younger friend expressed his frustration with the older generation. Feelings of frustration grew because an entire generation was being labeled. I wished there could be a context in which generations could come together and honestly get to know each other.

God has given me a huge burden and desire to confront this generational divide that is so prevalent. I hate that Satan is using it to discredit the name of Christ. We must address the division and learn to understand and appreciate those who come from a different generation than we do.

Every few hundred years in Western history, there occurs a sharp transformation…within a few short decades, society rearranges itself—it’s worldview, its basic values, its social and political structures, its areas, its key institutions.  Fifty years later, there is a new world. and the people born then cannot even imagine the world in which their grandparents lived and into which their own parents were born. We are living through such a transformations.”  Peter F. Drucker -“Post Capitalist Society”

So how can we get to know each other? Where does it begin? Rather than hearing their complaints, writing those complaints off, and mentally telling ourselves that this is just how we are, lets remember this verse:

   “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31

How do I want to be treated? I want to be understood and not labeled. I want those younger than me to attempt to get to know me for who I am, not for what they think I am in light of the generation I happen to come from.  So, I have purposed to get to know them and how they see the world.  I want to create a connection from my generation to their generation so that we can benefit from all we have to offer each other!

10 Ways To Connect With A Millennial:

  1. Put yourself into settings where there are people who are younger than you and allow relationships to form naturally. Let them know, in word and in action, that you want to know them and live life with them.
  2. Take time to show interest in their lives and join them in their life journey. Don’t treat them like they are a project or someone you want to “teach”. Be a friend.
  3. Don’t focus on what you might perceive to be their “negatives”. Don’t get caught up in generational slander.
  4. Don’t label them. Allow them to be the unique individuals they are. Remember that it’s okay if they think  or do things differently than you did.
  5. Be flexible and remember that applications of scripture sometimes look differently from person to person. Give them room to grow in their understanding.
  6. Be yourself, be willing to honestly share your life experiences, be appropriately transparent, and honestly share your own faith experience.
  7. Offer unconditional love. There may be some things in their (young) lives that need changing.  Show grace, encourage and support them, and pray about when to offer instruction.
  8. God created us to live in community. Millennials put a high value on friendship, yet genuine connections are harder to make with today’s lifestyles. Even with all the benifits of technology, it can make daily life impersonal. Be available.
  9. Don’t be afraid of being imperfect; just be yourself and live out the reality of the gospel.
  10. Don’t be clueless about technology or fall in to the “Technology is evil” mentality. Technology is the way most younger people communicate, and it will help you to connect with them.  It is a wonderful way to keep up with each other when you’re unable to coordinate schedules, and it shows that you are interested in, can understand, and will enter into their world.

One of the greatest privileges given to the older generation is to declare the glory of God to the next generation.  Our attitudes toward and interactions with them should be guided by our love for God and His people, so that – in turn – God can use our example to stir up this love within them as well.

READ: What Are We Gonna Do About Those Stinking Millennials?

 

When You Expect More From The Church

You walk into the church and quietly find a place to sit. You purpose not to make eye contact with anyone because you really don’t want to make meaningless small talk, nor do you want to get into any kind of in depth conversation. You just want to be left alone. The fact that you even showed up today feels like a big accomplishment.

Life has been so hard lately and you feel like no one has been there for you.

Sitting quietly, you observe others as they make their way down the aisle. One by one they find a place to sit and settle in for the church service. One by one, as you see them walk by, you are reminded of the ways you have been let down.  Thoughts begin to fill your mind and take away the desire to even be in church at all!

  • You look to your left and you see someone who used to be your friend but who has moved on. There was a misunderstanding that was never resolved. Now you two never talk. You feel hurt and misunderstood.
  • You notice a woman sitting off to the side. You have been going to this church for 5 years and she has never once reached out to you, even when you were the new person.
  • Looking towards the front you see the person that you tried to talk with last week. The person who minimized your trials by telling you to be grateful for your blessings and then brushed you off.
  • To the right you observe a group of young people sitting together. They are greeting each other, hugging, laughing and talking. This very group who has talked badly about your daughter and never includes her in anything.
  • And finally you glance to your right, only to see a person you have longed to get to know. She is so self confident and has so many friends that you feel like you probably have nothing to offer her.

If it wasn’t time for the service to start, and the kids weren’t settled,  you would just get up and go home. You are so discouraged. You expected more from this church. You expected more from the Church.

The Church. It can be a confusing place at times. You walk through the front doors expecting people to somehow be different than the outside world. You expect loyalty, friendship, sensitivity, and an extended hand. You expect compassion,  fellowship, support and to feel included rather than excluded.

You expect more than what you are experiencing. You feel like walking away.

But what if everyone chose to walk away just because they are disappointed and disillusioned with the Church? What if everyone gave up. There would be no one left.  And you know what? If that happened, there would probably be at least one person (if not more than one!) who walked away because they felt disappointed by YOU!  Yes. You. Because as much as we want to believe we don’t act like “those hypocrites in the Church”, we do. I do.  We have all let someone down in one way or another.  It can’t be avoided.

So what do we do?

Stop expecting more. BE more. 

It must begin somewhere. And when we decide that we are going to stop sitting there reminding ourselves of all the ways we’ve been let down, and choose to be MORE than what we see. MORE than what we’ve been. Then we will begin to see the people, who we feel have let us down, through eyes of grace.  We will begin to see how we have also let others down. And we will begin to purpose to look for ways to strengthen the Church.

Stop expecting more. BE more. 

How can you reach out and strengthen the Church today?